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10:30 - 10:35 amSaturday, September 17
Upper Lobby
Will2Love: Guiding cancer survivors on the journey to sexual wellness
Upper Lobby
Will2Love: Guiding cancer survivors on the journey to sexual wellness
Will 2 Love
Sexual problems rank among the top unmet needs of cancer survivors. Over 60% (9 million) in the US end up with persistent sexual problems. Half report distress, yet fewer than 20% get professional help.... Read more


Sexual problems rank among the top unmet needs of cancer survivors. Over 60% (9 million) in the US end up with persistent sexual problems. Half report distress, yet fewer than 20% get professional help. Will2Love offers online help, encouraging partners to work together and singles to date again. Will2Love.com provides news, blogs, webinars, moderated online forums, and resources. It links to responsively designed intervention sites for men and women, offered as self-help subscriptions or in a package with telehealth counseling. The interventions each give information on sexual and fertility side effects across cancer sites, self-help strategies to prevent or overcome specific sexual problems, training in sexual and couple communication skills, advice on finding expert help, video interviews with real patients, and vignettes with actors. Sites were developed with 3 fast-track SBIR/STTR grants from NCI. Published and recently completed trials show their efficacy. A randomized trial (RT) of 186 couples after prostate cancer compared the same sex therapy intervention delivered online or in 3 in-person sessions, with a waitlist control (Schover et al. 2012, Cancer). Both formats significantly improved sexual function/satisfaction in men and partners, with gains maintained at 1-year follow-up. An RT compared our next version to urology care alone in a cancer center’s sexual medicine clinic. Treatment satisfaction improved for all men, but access to the web site did not enhance outcomes, with poor adherence. We revised the site extensively, adding goal-setting and tracking and improving navigation. In a pragmatic trial of 29 men (mean age 61±9, mean time since diagnosis 37 mos.±42) 86% accessed the site vs. 60% in the RT, with 59% viewing it for >30 min. compared to 34% in the RT. Mean time on site increased from 101±81 min. in the RT to 151±250 in the pragmatic trial, with 41% vs. 17% sharing it with a partner. Efficacy data is not yet available but 60% rated the site as helpful in understanding cancer’s impact on sex and 34% used it to make decisions about care or felt it improved their sex life. Phone coaching was optional, but 86% rated it very helpful. An RT of our female intervention randomized 58 women to web site alone or supplemented with 3 counseling sessions (Schover et al. 2013, JNCCN). Survivors of breast or gynecologic cancer completed questionnaires at baseline, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up. Both groups improved significantly in sexual function/satisfaction, distress, and quality of life, but the counseled group initially had bigger gains on sexual function. Site usage was similar in the 2 groups (149±157 min.), but the counseled group’s usage was mainly during the treatment period. The self-help group continued using it during follow-up. By 6 months, groups’ improvement had equalized. We used this site in a multi-component intervention to prevent sexual problems in women starting aromatase inhibitors for localized breast cancer. Data analysis is ongoing, but at 12 months, only 15% of women gave up partner sex compared to 24% in our survey of a similar, untreated cohort. Scores on sexual function and distress also were far better than in the historical cohort. We will continue outcome studies as we go live with the commercial sites.

R. Schover, PhD has dedicated her career to helping cancer patients prevent or
overcome treatment-related problems of sexuality and fertility. Dr. Schover
graduated from Brown University in 1974, phi beta kappa, magna cum laude, with
honors in psychology. She received a PhD in clinical psychology from UCLA in
1979. Her dissertation was supported by a Woodrow Wilson Research Grant in
Women’s Studies. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in sex therapy and sex
research at SUNY at Stony Brook in 1981. She was Assistant Professor of
Psychology in Urology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center from
1982-1986, providing clinical services and research focused on sexuality and
cancer. She served as Staff Psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation
until 1999, working clinically in a multidisciplinary sexual dysfunction clinic
and with the infertility program, and continuing her research on reproductive
health and chronic illness. She then returned to MD Anderson Cancer Center,
becoming a tenured full professor in 2003. She has also served as Director of
Training for the Department of Behavioral Science. She has published 116
peer-reviewed journal articles, 33 book chapters, 3 self-help books, and a
textbook. She has served on the editorial boards of Archives of Sexual Behavior and the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and is currently an Associate Editor for Fertility and Sterility. She co-edited a Monograph of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in
2005 presenting papers from a multidisciplinary conference she co-chaired with
Marvin Meistrich, PhD, Parenthood after Cancer: Today’s Options and Tomorrow’s
Hopes. Her research has focused on developing and testing interventions to help
people with cancer make better decisions about sexual and fertility issues, and
to overcome reproductive health problems. Grants from the American Cancer
Society and the National Cancer Institute supported research on helping couples
overcome sexual problems after prostate cancer and developing a peer counseling
program on reproductive health for African-American breast cancer survivors. In
recent years she has been subcontract PI in partnership with Paul Martinetti,
MD, Principal of Digital Science Technologies, LLC on three, fast-track small
business grants funded by the National Cancer Institute to develop and evaluate
internet-based interventions for male and female cancer survivors on sexuality
and fertility. Dr. Schover retired from MD Anderson in January, 2016 and is
devoting fulltime to an mHealth startup, Will 2 Love, to disseminate these
interventions. In 2015, Will 2 Love was chosen as one of 21 companies for the initial
class of a new health accelerator in the Texas Medical Center, TMCx. The plan
is for Will 2 Love to go live in early 2016, with a web site presenting news, blog
posts, webinars, and social media forums. Evidence-based interventions for men
and women will be offered direct to consumers on a subscription basis.
Telehealth counseling by phone or video will be piloted. Dr. Schover hopes to
fulfill her dream of providing timely and accurate information to cancer
survivors on sex and fertility; as well as self-help options to prevent or
treat problems; and guidance on finding expert medical care.

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